Monday, March 24, 2008

Olympic torch lighting protest

China's government appears to have a public relations nightmare on its hands.

A member of Reporters Without Borders protested the torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia today, interrupting the speech by the president of China's Olympic Committee. It was well timed. We should expect this will go down as the first of many protests as the Olympic flame makes its way through cities on five continents and then into Tibet.

Long before the Tibet uprisings, Reporters without Borders called attention to the Chinese government's suppression of the media freedom, its censorship of the media, and its jailing of journalists and activists. China tends to call such incidents "internal affairs." An editorial in the Guardian (which I blogged about previously) explains why this is stance is not acceptable:
. . . Chinese authoritarianism is also bad for the world.

China is now the planet's largest emitter of carbon dioxide thanks to a poisonous power-generation programme. Censorship also makes it harder to check the spread of contagious disease and harder to expose the regulatory corruption that means unsafe goods find their way on to global markets.
We can sign treaties with China, negotiate deals, but at the end of all this, who is to hold the leadership accountable? In a nutshell, that's why the Chinese peoples' civil liberties -- especially press freedom -- matter to everybody.
Photo: Reporters Without Borders - website.

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